Our nontraditional and graduate students are some of the hardest-working Tigers you'll meet. While they earn their degrees, most of them maintain other responsibilities, such as working full time or parenting. And their effort and execution don't falter in the classroom, whether that be online or in person.

Meet our class of 2023 Featured Tigers, leaders in all aspects of their lives!

Monique Renee Ruiz ’23E
Monique Renee Ruiz ’23E never saw herself earning a master's degree. But once she started in Doane's educational leadership program, quitting wasn't an option.  

Monique Renee Ruiz ’23E (she/her)

I was born in Wichita, Kansas, but I moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, when I was young. Lincoln is home.

Master of Education in Educational Leadership

First off — congratulations! How do you feel as you head into the next phase of your life?
I am so excited! I am eager to take the knowledge I gained from my time at Doane and continue to put it into practice in my personal and professional life.

What's your next step after graduation?
My next step after graduation is to breathe! I have been working toward earning my master's degree in educational leadership for three years. Throughout those years I have often had to say "no" or "next time" to my family and friends as I worked on my studies. I am looking forward to saying "yes" a little more often to having experiences with my family and friends.

How has attending Doane prepared you for your next steps?
Throughout my time at Doane, I have really learned a lot about myself. I've learned what my core values and passions are. I am lucky that I get to put those into practice each and every day within the field of public education.

What do you consider the best part of your Doane experience?
The best experience I had at Doane has been the cadre experience. Getting to learn and grow alongside and with the same group of peers and professors has been invaluable.

What will you miss the most about being a Doane student?
The thing I will miss the most is having a core group of people that I can go to for ideas and support. Although I will still have that, it will be different.

Who was a major influence for you during your education here, and how have they helped you?
I am forever grateful for the guidance and support of Dr. Marilyn Johnson Farr and Dr. Bess Scott. Without their mentorship, guidance, and consistent support, I would probably not be graduating with my master's degree.

What is something you're proud of achieving or accomplishing while at Doane?
I am proud of myself for stretching my own parameters of what I thought I was capable of. I never ever saw myself graduating with a master's degree because I didn't see this path for myself. I am proud that I did it!

What advice would you give to incoming students?
1. Trust yourself.
2. Push yourself.
3. Know that you can do this.

Finishing a degree is tough to begin with, but especially so in recent years — what has helped you overcome challenges you've faced along the way?
I never gave myself the option not to finish, so that was never even on the table. Something that has helped me is knowing the impact I hope to have within the field of public education and that pushed me to move forward every single day. I also think about my own two beautiful children and I want them to know they can do hard things.

Finally — what are you most excited about for your future?
Something I am most excited about for my future is to continue to live and breathe my personal mission statement. My mission is to support and promote equitable educational opportunities and advocate for all learners so they can live their lives to their fullest potential.